The area surrounding Kings Cross Railway Station used to have a reputation as a red-light, no-go district. However, the redevelopment of “Coal Drops Yard”:https://www.kingscross.co.uk/coal-drops-yard has completely transformed the area behind the station and it has been given it’s own new postcode N1C.
We walked up between Kings Cross and St Pancras and crossed over Regents Park Canal to find a paved open courtyard area called Granary Square. In the centre are 1,080 choreographed jet “fountains,”:https://www.kingscross.co.uk/fountains-granary-square each individually controlled and lit which squirt and splash in patterns. On a chilly rainy day, it was quiet, but in summer it must be paradise for children. On two sides are smart restaurants including The Lighterman, Caravan and Granary Square Brasserie and all have tables outside. We had a warming coffee in the elegant lounge at Caravan. More eateries, bars and cultural outlets are scattered around the development.
Walking up Stable Street we popped into the “Visitor Centre”:https://www.kingscross.co.uk/visitor-centre where a very enthusiastic lady, explained the two models of the area and the history. The actual Coal Drops Yard were originally built to receive the trains carrying coal from Yorkshire. The two long Victorian warehouses, with arches and cobbled street, now house 65 independent shops on two levels. The roof, known as The Kiss because the two curves touch at one point, is stunning and was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, noted for his Olympic cauldron in 2012. The shops are still all a little quiet but as more people get to know about the area, you could imagine them rivalling Covent Garden.
As a backdrop are three gasholders, built in 1850 and only decommissioned in 2000. Three of which have been converted into luxury “flats.”:https://gasholderslondon.co.uk/ We learned that the original structures had to be dismantled and refurbished in Sheffield, Yorkshire, before the building of the flats within the circular metal structures could begin. The ‘pizza-slice’ flats start at around £850k and must be an amazing sight inside requiring specially shaped furniture. The fourth houses an open grassy area, “Gasholder Park”:https://www.kingscross.co.uk/gasholder-park, with walkway and mirrors around it.
There is still ongoing building work which will include a theatre and a small wildlife area named “Camley Street Natural Park.”:https://www.kingscross.co.uk/camley-street-natural-park
The bonus of the area is its proximity to Regents Park Canal where a long bank of steps has been transformed into Astro Turf covered seating, overlooking the canal. We walked along the towpath into Camden for lunch (about 1 mile – 15 minutes) although you could continue, on a fine day, into Regents Park.
It’s an area definitely on the up and worth exploring. Tours can be booked (see the Visitor Centre).